Really hard to find anything for this lovely crazy little thingy. Can anyone give me hints for a learning path?

What are the first skills I need to acquire? Even sounding up and downstrokes I guess? And after that?

Should I start with 2-pitch rhythms or directly work on 3-pitch rhythms, treating 2-pitch as a simplification? Or is 3 pitch stuff for more advanced learners and it´s better to focus on 2 pitch and keeping the sounds even?

Google yields extraordinary few authorative materials. E.g. I could not find a single book about the cuica.

The cuica is a friction drum. You rub a bamboo stick which is fastened in the center of a drumhead. The stick is rubbed to produce a sound. The pitch can be changed by pressing fingers on the drumhead.

The sound is described to be like a dog's bark, or like monkeys, the latter description probably being more accurate.

Here is a video showing a cuica:

A cuica in a pop song can be heard e.g. in Red Hot Chili peppers Walkabout (starting from 1.45,



1 Answer 1


I think you are over thinking it. When I was an undergad, I lived with a percussion major and had a grand old time messing with his cuica.

As you know it is a percussion instrument, but more specifically, it is going to add a specific sound, rather that to keep time, such as a drumset or clave would.

The music surrounding the cuica is basically Brazilian folk music, most specifiacally Samba, but I expect that the instrument appears in other non-samba Brasillian styles. Anyway, this music probably not written down, and performed anyone that was in the corner band. No specific skills needed.

Just wet your rag, and go to town. Practice. Experiment with different amounts of moisture, start with slightly damp. Experiment with pressure and speed. You can also use a finger tip or the side of your hand to press on the drum head, thus changing its tension and pitch.

Have fun.

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